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Asia AI Semiconductors

China’s Huawei Plots AI Push With ‘Project Da Vinci’

Once a month, a top Huawei executive huddles with colleagues to talk about how to bring artificial intelligence into everything the Chinese tech giant makes, from telecom base stations and cloud data centers to devices like smartphones and surveillance cameras. The broad effort is code-named Project Da Vinci—referred to as Project D by some Huawei executives, according to people familiar with the matter.

Project Da Vinci, whose existence hasn’t been reported before, could have a significant impact given the wide use of Huawei’s products and services among global wireless carriers. The effort includes the development of new Huawei AI chips for data centers that enable applications like voice and image recognition in the cloud, Huawei’s first foray into this competitive market. The AI push also could fuel the U.S. government’s concerns about the growing clout of Huawei, whose telecom gear and consumer smartphones are effectively banned in the U.S. due to fears Beijing might use them to spy on Americans.  

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Huawei's AI push fits neatly into China’s broader ambitions to develop more homegrown technologies.